Transfection effect of microbubbles on cells in superposed ultrasound waves and behavior of cavitation bubble

Tetsuya Kodama, Yukio Tomita, Ken ichiro Koshiyama, Martin J.K. Blomley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


The combination of ultrasound and ultrasound contrast agents (UCAs) is able to induce transient membrane permeability leading to direct delivery of exogenous molecules into cells. Cavitation bubbles are believed to be involved in the membrane permeability; however, the detailed mechanism is still unknown. In the present study, the effects of ultrasound and the UCAs, Optison™ on transfection in vitro for different medium heights and the related dynamic behaviors of cavitation bubbles were investigated. Cultured CHO-E cells mixed with reporter genes (luciferase or β-gal plasmid DNA) and UCAs were exposed to 1MHz ultrasound in 24-well plates. Ultrasound was applied from the bottom of the well and reflected at the free surface of the medium, resulting in the superposition of ultrasound waves within the well. Cells cultured on the bottom of 24-well plates were located near the first node (displacement node) of the incident ultrasound downstream. Transfection activity was a function determined with the height of the medium (wave traveling distance), as well as the concentration of UCAs and the exposure time was also determined with the concentration of UCAs and the exposure duration. Survival fraction was determined by MTT assay, also changes with these values in the reverse pattern compared with luciferase activity. With shallow medium height, high transfection efficacy and high survival fraction were obtained at a low concentration of UCAs. In addition, capillary waves and subsequent atomized particles became significant as the medium height decreased. These phenomena suggested cavitation bubbles were being generated in the medium. To determine the effect of UCAs on bubble generation, we repeated the experiments using crushed heat-treated Optison™ solution instead of the standard microbubble preparation. The transfection ratio and survival fraction showed no additional benefit when ultrasound was used. These results suggested that cavitation bubbles created by the collapse of UCAs were a key factor for transfection, and their intensities were enhanced by the interaction of the superpose ultrasound with the decreasing the height of the medium. Hypothesizing that free cavitation bubbles were generated from cavitation nuclei created by fragmented UCA shells, we carried out numerical analysis of a free spherical bubble motion in the field of ultrasound. Analyzing the interaction of the shock wave generated by a cavitation bubble and a cell membrane, we estimated the shock wave propagation distance that would induce cell membrane damage from the center of the cavitation bubble. (E-mail:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-914
Number of pages10
JournalUltrasound in Medicine and Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jun


  • Cavitation bubbles
  • CHO-E cells
  • Membrane permeabilization
  • Molecular delivery


Dive into the research topics of 'Transfection effect of microbubbles on cells in superposed ultrasound waves and behavior of cavitation bubble'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this